How did Karen’s choice start on social media and how has the journey been so far?
My purpose from the start has always been to share with my audience–whether it was with 50 people or today 5 million–a raw, positive and empowering reflection of events, experiences and daily stories happening in my life; with the hopes of inspiring women from across the world to believe in their dreams and work hard to go after them. My journey evolved from a blog called ‘Karen’s Choice’ which was a diary-like lifestyle blog to today, speaking daily from the heart with a growing audience that I consider my online family. I share with them everything: from a simple random thought, the first day of my children’s school, to my journey in building a brand from scratch. My audience inspires me everyday.
Tell us more about Karen Wazen Eyewear brand and your plans for future growth.
Karen Wazen Eyewear is a brand that developed from a marriage of my love for sunglasses and my love for my audience. I felt I wanted to be even closer to them and give them a “piece of me”. Being a huge fan of sunglasses, I felt it was a natural transition to build a brand that best represents me. It’s been an incredible journey and I am very proud of where my brand stands today. We are currently stocked across the world with some of the most renowned department stores and online retailers from the Middle East to Europe, East Asia and the United States - including Shopbop, through whom I’m able to reach and share a piece of me with a global audience.
Tell us about your experience as a speaker at Harvard University’s Arab forum, especially when it means influencing a lot of young minds.
To date, speaking at Harvard is one of the moments I’m most proud of in my journey. I feel so honoured to have been able to speak about the role of social media in the Arab world and share my personal experiences and reflections on this topic. I feel honoured and grateful everyday to be able to communicate with my community which is of course a big social responsibility especially when keeping in mind the youth. But with a background and Masters in Psychology, my true interest and passion has always been the people and I hope to be able to continue to share and grow with my audience.
Which charities do you support regularly?
A few months ago I was officially recognised as a high profile supporter of the UNHCR, an agency with a cause very dear to my heart. I support and raise awareness very regularly on their missions and relief acts with refugees across the world. I of course love to use my platform continually for a greater cause and regularly support charities based on events happening in the world and where I feel my heart is at the moment.
An eyewear entrepreneur, a luxury shoe label owner and a chef ! How do Wazen sisters compliment each other?
Andrea: Even though we work in different fields, we consider each other as part of one team, constantly helping each other when and how we can.
Karen: Andrea being a very talented designer, she is the one who designs and brings my vision for Karen Wazen Eyewear’s collections to life. She supports me in many ways when it comes to aesthetic and creativity. She is extremely hard working and giving and would consider my work as important to her as hers. And for me having a platform with a wide audience on social media I constantly highlight the works and talents of my sisters to be able to reach as many people as possible. Jessica is constantly a backbone for us with immense support
and encouragement. She’s always been one of the most selfless and helpful people - even if it means taking over my 3 children for me to be able to get work done. She would do it in a heartbeat!
Andrea, when and how did you decide to launch Andrea Wazen footwear? Tell us about your experience so far and which celebrities have worn your label.
Launching my own footwear line was always something I wanted to do down the line, I just never expected to find myself doing it at such a young age of 23. I was working in London at Christian Louboutin and had already completed my experiences at Rupert Sanderson and Central Saint Martins when I felt the urge to move back to Beirut and launch a brand that resembles me and the vision I had for footwear. Producing in Beirut has always been at the core of my brand as I always wanted to encourage Lebanese production and local artisans. I am so happy with what my team and I have accomplished - international celebrities picking up the brand and spotting them in my shoes was really a turning point for us. Andrea Wazen shoes are spotted today on the likes of Hailey Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Demi Moore, Demi Lovato, Sienna Miller, Emilia Clarke, Normani to name a few.
Jessica, how have you managed to stay away from fashion and instead focus on another form of luxury - Culinary ? Tell us more about Saveur Plus.
I was always passionate about the culinary world. I started my journey in the hospitality industry and had the chance to work under the world’s most renowned chefs such as Yannick Alleno, Gordon Ramsay, and Alain Ducasse. My experience and studies were the perfect foundation to enter the world of catering which was my family’s business. Saveur Plus catering gave me the opportunity to experiment and go deeper in the world of culinary. Travelling and working long hours in the kitchen took up so much time and energy, the most fashionable outfit I would care for is a chef’s uniform! I love to express myself through food and singing, while my sisters lean more towards art and fashion.
What next for Wazen sisters?
Everything we’ve ever done has never been planned; it’s always been done out of passion and love. Today, we feel so blessed that we are all in the same country, which hasn’t been the case for a while. Together we are better so let’s wait and see where our combined passions take us.
How do you feel the way you were raised has contributed to each of you having such different, but accomplished career paths?
We were always encouraged to believe in ourselves and not to be afraid to dream and take risks. This is definitely something that is at the essence of what we do. We are constantly looking to better ourselves and work hard to reach our goals as unrealistic as they may seem to others.
How as sisters do you support each other’s entrepreneurial journeys?
We constantly bounce ideas off each other and even if we work in different fields we consider ourselves a team. We push and encourage each other and always help each other out when and how we can!